Top-tier strawweights will throw down in Chicago as Claudia Gadelha meets Carla Esparza at UFC 225.
Strawweight is a division that is chock full of intriguing matchups that have yet to occur and this is one. Claudia Gadelha has been one of the best strawweights on the roster since the division’s inception, losing to just Joanna Jedrzejczyk (twice) and Jessica Andrade in her 18-fight career. Carla Esparza has had her ups and downs, but the inaugural strawweight champion has won in two straight contests.
Claudia Gadelha is a very well-rounded fighter, using her striking to get by Jessica Aguilar and her dominant grappling to defeat Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Cortney Casey. Her second bout with Joanna Jedrzejczyk was a classic, with Gadelha knocking down the former champion and winning the first two rounds before the Polish striker took over for the remainder of the fight. Gadelha recently lost a number-one contender bout to the powerful Jessica Andrade, and sits at third in the 115-pound rankings.
Carla Esparza defeated a who’s who on her way to the strawweight title through The Ultimate Fighter, besting Angela Hill, Tecia Torres, Jessica Penne, then finally Rose Namajunas to claim the strap. Jedrzejczyk forcibly took the title from her just three months later, and since then, “Cookie Monster” is 3-1. Esparza defeated hot prospect Cynthia Calvillo utilizing an improved striking game in her most recent performance.
UFC 225 will take place in the United Center of Chicago, Illinois, on June 9. Although Carla Esparza vs. Claudia Gadelha is the first bout announced for the event, former WWE superstar and Chicago native CM Punk is rumored to be on the card. Yoel Romero also came out today and said he’d like to make his return to the Octagon in the Windy City.